CHELSEA v Atletico Madrid: Champions League Preview

Venue: Stamford Bridge
Date: Wednesday, 30 April
Kick-off: 19:45 BST

Having clearly upset the media and pundits alike with our ‘shock’ win over Liverpool at the weekend, unlike the league leaders (who prefer to take it easy midweek) it’s back to Europe for us with our Champions League semi-final second leg at home to Atletico Madrid.
Make no bones about it, we got a decent result against them in the first leg because not many sides have stopped the Spanish side from scoring at home this season – a season in which they are currently just 2 wins away from winning La Liga for the first time since 1996.
Of course, the fact we held them to a 0-0 at home will mean nothing if we fail to stop them scoring away from home tonight as well – so we have our work well and truly cut out if we’re to meet Real Madrid in Lisbon.

Ahead of tonight’s game, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has had plenty to say and on the game itself, says “There are some matches that are special and this is one of them. In the last round against Paris Saint-Germain, we were in a position where we had nothing to lose – nobody really expected us to turn the result round. This time, we come to the second leg with a clean result. At 0-0, it means possibilities for both teams, probably the same possibilities. We have the advantage of being at home but a score draw puts them through. Everything is very balanced but we have to enjoy it, really, all of us. The players, too. The match that every player wants to play in is the Champions League Final. But next to that is the second leg of the semi-final, so we have to enjoy it.”
Whilst on our opponents, the Chelsea boss says “Atletico are a good side. They’re not a counter-attacking side, they’re a good side. They defend well. I don’t think it’s fair to analyse them in such a way. It’s only fair to say they’re a good team, a very good team. They score goals. They win matches. The fact is that they’re in the semi-finals of the Champions League and they need two victories to be the champions in Spain. To be in a Champions League semi-final is not for every club, but to have the possibility of winning a league against Barcelona and Real Madrid is something that deserves my respect.”
Atletico boss Diego Simeone meanwhile, says “I imagine I’ll play the best possible opponent. We’ll play a team who, at the weekend, went to the Premier League leaders, Liverpool, and won 2-0 making a lot of changes to their squad. That speaks volumes. They have a super competitive squad, so we’ll need to be very focused. We’ll face the best Chelsea team possible. You can’t compare us with Chelsea but my players are excited and keen. The best team will win. With our hard work and our enthusiasm, we can do well.”
And in spite of plenty of pushing and prodding to have a dig at his opposition, on the subject of potential bus parking, Simeone says “I’m a football man and I respect different ways of setting out your team. It’s about what’s the best way for a specific game or a specific opposition. To defend well is not easy, so I congratulate teams who do that well. To attack well isn’t easy, either, so you have to congratulate managers who get their sides doing that. Football is constantly evolving. There is no ‘best way’ to play. It depends on the manager spending time with his players, talking different setups and tactics, different approaches and styles. In the end, the most important thing is that the team, the club, and the institution wins, regardless of how it is achieved. There is no ‘one way’ to play football. If we all played the same way, it would be very boring. You can play 10 at the back or 10 up front. What matters is the result.”

For Chelsea, the bad news is Petr Cech (dislocated shoulder) remains injured, John Mikel Obi and Frank Lampard miss out through suspension, whilst Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah are both cup tied. The good news is John Terry (ankle), Eden Hazard and Samuel Eto’o should all be fit.
For Atletico, there’s no fresh injury problems although captain Gabi is suspended for this game.

CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Schwarzer; Azpilicueta, Terry, Cahill, Ivanovic; Ramires, Luiz; Oscar, Willian, Hazard; Eto’o
ATLETICO (Possible line-up): Courtois; Juanfran, Miranda, Godin, Felipe Luis; Garcia, Gabi, Tiago, Koke; Villa, Cost

Atletico 0-0 Chelsea (22nd April 2014)

In spite of Jose saying the next best thing to the final for players is a semi final, I’m not buying the ‘just enjoy it’ line. We know from experience the difference between reaching the final of this competition and being knocked out at this stage – as does the boss. It’ll be a tense affair out there and very much dependent on which Chelsea side turns up. So, I predict I’ll be watching this one from behind a cushion!


One Response to “CHELSEA v Atletico Madrid: Champions League Preview”

  1. Gabi is suspended so won’t be playing for Atletico.

    I reckon Schurrle will start ahead of Oscar.